E3 Show Daily

Medium Goes Large

Excitement is high at this year's E3, partly due to the emergence of many cutting-edge virtual reality (VR) products. Oculus VR's much-anticipated Oculus Rift headgear has been a hot topic since it was announced in 2012, and this year, all the buzz will meet (virtual) reality. 

Oculus VR's sizable E3 exhibit impresses, with a section dedicated to showing off upcoming games for Oculus Rift, and another showcasing Oculus' fascinating new Touch controllers. Games for the Oculus Rift span a multitude of genres, and include High Voltage Studios' fast-moving first-person action game Damaged Core, Crytek's rock-climbing simulator The Climb, and Insomniac Games' third-person adventure brawler Feral Rites.

Feral Rites is a particularly striking example of how VR amplifies the gaming experience. The Rift's technology intensifies Feral Rites' vibrant graphics, effortlessly whisking gamers into a lush jungle as captivating as any real-world tropical setting. The Rift provides sharp, multilayered visuals, while the game's fixed camera removes any motion sickness concerns. The headset's streamlined design and high refresh rate mean that it can be worn comfortably for hours. Further, its built-in (removable) audio system eliminates the need for headphones; the headset comes with its own remote VR sensor and Microsoft Xbox One controller. 

When asked why he thought the Oculus VR will transform games, Feral Rites Lead Designer Cameron Christian said, "The quality [and] the improvements in the tech make it a lot more appealing for people. You will get truly new experiences you can only do on VR."

Along with its core technology, Oculus is showcasing its new Touch controllers. Brian Sharp, director of Oculus Medium, showed the controllers in action through Medium—software designed with Touch specifically in mind. Medium lets users get creative, using Touch controllers to manipulate digital art media in a tactile way. They get the best of both the real and the digital worlds: the feel of drawing or sculpting with natural media, and the digital conveniences of transferring files into other programs.

As Sharp put it, "It has the appeal of sandcastles or making a snowman—but then also lets you make really nice stuff if you're an artist."

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Underscoring this, one of Medium's concept artists demonstrated the software. On an external display, the artist used a Rift headset and two Touch controllers to sculpt a 3D model. The process recognizes gestures, and appears as intuitive as sculpting with clay. At present, Medium features a sculpting material that looks a like a colored spray foam. Oculus Medium and Touch will become available later this year, with pricing and specific release dates to be announced at a later date.

Along with demonstrating its own hardware, Oculus VR has multiple stations where E3 attendees can take the Samsung Gear VR headset for a spin. Among other games on show are the VR version of popular tower defense game CastleStorm, and comical first-person zombie shooter Drop Dead. The latter is a particularly good match for VR, featuring a colorful graveyard filled with cartoony undead that shamble straight at the player, like something out of a 1950s 3D movie.

Given the mind-blowing technology that Oculus VR has on display, the company has established itself as a strong catalyst for new kinds of game experiences.

Go to E3Expo.com